Mental health problems

Young people can overcome much of what life throws at them, including mental health problems and many can deal with difficulties themselves.
legs sitting in a chair

When someone is going through a tough time, support from another person is really important. Parents may feel disempowered to help as they often don’t understand what can be going for young people.

You, as a parent can help by being there, listening and supporting.

What is a mental health problem?

Mental health problems occur when a person has difficulty dealing with the normal “ups and downs” in life. They can affect thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

When people experience mental health problems, they tend to think and feel differently from how they usually do. A change in behaviour may be evident. In most cases, mental health problems can be managed and people are able to live happy and meaningful lives.

It’s normal for young people’s attitudes and behaviours to change and fluctuate. However, if you have concerns, or notice any of the following signs, it is good to act on those concerns.

Signs of a mental health problem in young people:

  • Increased stress or distress
  • Anxiety or unexplained fears
  • Withdrawal from friends, family or social activities
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness.

Types of mental health problem

Mental health problems are quite common and can range from temporary feelings of stress or to longer term, or chronic feelings of deep depression or anxiety. They also relate to the experience of psychosis which can involve hallucinations, delusion or impaired insight.

Read about different mental health problems or life events that have an impact on mental health in this section.

What is a mental disorder?

A mental health disorder occurs when the mental health difficulties are severe, persistent over time and interfere with the young person’s functioning (at home, with friends or in school/work).

Early identification and treatment is crucial. A qualified mental health professional must be consulted regarding diagnosis.

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